The NA LCS has finally entered the second half of the split and things are getting a little more interesting with this past weekend’s results. There were some upset wins, demoralizing stomps and an in-game bug that caused a remake. If you missed the action from this past weekend, you should start tuning in for the next four weeks to see how the middle of the standings end up, because even the teams at the bottom could find their way into the playoff picture.
1. Team Solo Mid (10-0)
Who will be the first team to take a series from TSM? It might be a low-tier team because TSM’s biggest weakness has to be its lack of preparation when it comes to those teams. TSM destroys its expected competition, but for some reason, falter during the throwaway matchups. But overall the team just seems unstoppable in the NA LCS. Things will probably be different when it comes to the fierce international competition, but we will most likely have to wait for the World Championship to see TSM tested against another team that isn’t Immortals.
2. Immortals (9-1)
It seems like Immortals has been making an effort to not play near as cocky as it did last split. It still happens from time to time, but Immortals definitely feels a little more controlled with its aggression. But just like TSM, it is very hard to assess how good of a team Immortals really is until they go against more intense competition. I am also interested what might happen to Immortals if the top-lane meta changes into a tank meta. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, because I am liking the flashy plays that top laners are capable of doing now.
3. Cloud9 (6-4)
Cloud9 honestly tilted off the face of the Earth this past weekend. The bug that gave Cloud9 a chance to remake game 2 against Liquid had to be the most annoying thing to deal with. You win a team fight that could potentially snowball the game back to your favor, and a flying Trundle beats down your ADC. Cloud9 didn’t look the same after that unfortunate bug. I am still placing them 3rd in the power rankings just to see how they play this coming weekend when the team isn’t tilted out of their minds.
4. Team Liquid (6-4)
The choice to keep fabbbyyy didn’t turn out to be a bad roster decision. This is mostly due to the fact that the meta calls for more utility based ADCs. I am sure once the meta shifts again, Piglet will be inserted back into the starting lineup. This pretty much proves that Dardoch is the most important piece of the roster. The amount of pressure he has on the map is insane! And not only does he pressure the lanes well, he also finds time to farm more than the opposing team’s jungler. But if Dardoch isn’t able to get his team rolling through this great early-game pressure, Liquid tends to just fall over. All Liquid has to do to keep competing with the rest of the top teams is to learn how to force the issue even when behind. Sure, the team was able to beat Cloud9, but Liquid has two other teams that will test them even more than Cloud9.
5. Team Envy (6-4)
Team Envy’s biggest nightmare has come true – other teams have gotten better. The only problems I can point out about Envy are Ninja’s champ pool, weird decision making and bad team compositions. Ninja’s champ pool basically speaks for itself. He mostly plays counters against the meta champs in the mid lane rather than playing them. I mean, it makes sense, but I would rather utilize the meta champs and force bans on them. Envy’s decision making when it comes to trading objectives can be very questionable at times. It feels like the team doesn’t properly track summoner spell cooldowns, so when Envy has players split pushing alone or with another person, the enemy team just flanks the people split-pushing using teleport, along with nice rotations. A lot of teams make this mistake, but Envy’s team compositions don’t give much room to make this kind of mistake. It always feels like Envy can’t scale into the late game properly and because of this, it seems to lose in champ select when it goes against top teams, since top teams tend to know how to elongate a game. Luckily, this can be easy to fix if Ninja is willing to expand his champion pool.
6. Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) (4-6)
The 2-0 loss against TSM was pretty rough to watch. Something from CLG’s tremendous run at MSI is still missing even after five weeks of matches. It might be a mix of certain players not being strong individual players, and the risky shot-calling not working in their favor. Sure, CLG might work well as a team, but there are so many mechanical misplays during some of the team fights, that it turns what could have been a great play into a disaster that potentially snowballs into a loss. But the good thing about CLG is that it will keep going for those plays, hoping that everything works correctly. That alone is what makes CLG a scary team, because even if it means losing even faster, the team will always go for the play that will get them back into the game. Granted it won’t work as well against the top teams until CLG’s players brush up on their mechanics.
7. NRG (3-7)
It is so hard to assess NRG. There are games where I am legitimately impressed with how they work as a team and then there are games when I smack my palm on my forehead wondering why people are getting caught out. I do think they deserve to be this high in the power rankings, because although the team’s star players are struggling, when NRG knows what to do on the map, the team is a pretty scary to go against. And even though that doesn’t happen often, it is something that could potentially develop during the final four weeks of the regular season. The talent is there to take easy wins over the low-tier teams, but NRG needs to find a way to win a second game to close out some series against the top-tier teams.
8. Apex (4-6)
Apex at this point is on a free fall in the standings. The team started off the split so strong, but other teams are starting to realize that the easiest way to beat Apex is to shut down Ray. Something has to be done about Keane and Shrimp if Apex expects to break into the top six. Either both of them need to step up, or step aside for the subs to show whether or not they have the ability to win their matchups and relieve some pressure from Ray’s lane. And even though the subs for those positions might not be upgrades, Apex has to do something with the team dynamic. I would say something about the bot lane, but the players in that lane fit well with the current meta so it really is up to Keane and Shrimp to get ahead in their games more consistently. Relying on Ray to feed kills to the rest of the team won’t work now that teams are starting to improve their game knowledge. Maybe Apex’s loss against Phoenix1 is the continuation of its fall or maybe it will be what it needed to finally kick it into high gear.
9. Echo Fox (1-9)
I think it is fair to say that Echo Fox looks a little better in terms of map pressure, but it is still a pain to watch. For as good and experienced as Froggen is, you would think he knows what to tell his teammates to properly snowball a lead in their favor. I guess he is just stuck in his old ways and is unable to properly lead his team with effective shot calling. Big, Keith and Hard constantly find themselves in horrible situations that will either throw a lead, or make a losing game snowball out of control. The only bright spot other than Froggen is kfo, but even he has his fair share of problems when it comes to knowing when to freeze a lane and when to assist the team. I feel like if Echo Fox keeps working on its map play then the team has a small chance of making it to the playoffs. Echo Fox has mechanically gifted players for each of the carry roles, but maybe the jungler and the support might be too much of deadweight for the team to carry its way to more series wins.
10. Phoenix1 (1-9)
The Phoenix is beginning its rise from the ashes! I know that the chances of Phoenix1 going on a crazy win streak to make it to the playoffs are slim, but with how much the team has improved, I think it will be able to avoid relegation. It seems like Phoenix1 knows how to abuse its enemy team’s weak spot during the lane phase, which helps it get a lead going into the mid-game. Phoenix1 still lacks the decision making during the mid-to-late portions of the game to reliably grab wins from teams at the top of the standings, but as it proved in its match against Apex, it can still pull off a win against a lower-tier team even if the team doesn’t make the best calls. This coming weekend, Phoenix1 will go against Echo Fox and CLG, which will prove whether or not it is consistent enough to rise in the power rankings.